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Do as the Neighbors Do: The Impact of Social Networks on Immigrant Employees

Listed author(s):
  • Fredrik Anderson
  • Simon Burgess
  • Julia Lane

    ()

Substantial immigrant segregation in the United States, combined with the increase in the share of the U.S. foreign-born population, have led to great interest in the causes and consequences of immigrant concentration, including those related to the functioning of labor markets. This paper provides robust evidence that both the size and the quality of an immigrant enclave affects the labor market outcomes of new immigrants. We develop new measures of the quality, or information value, of immigrant networks by exploiting data based on worker earnings records matched to firm and Census information. We demonstrate the importance of immigrant employment links: network members are much more likely than other immigrants to be employed in the same firm as their geographic neighbors. Immigrants living with large numbers of employed neighbors are more likely to have jobs than immigrants in areas with fewer employed neighbors. The effects are quantitatively important and robust under alternative specifications. For example, in a high value network – one with an average employment rate in the 90th percentile – a one standard deviation increase in the log of the number of contacts in the network is associated with almost a 5% increase in the employment rate. Earnings, conditional on employment, increase by about 0.7%.

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File URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2009/wp219.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 09/219.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:09/219
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," Working Papers 9903, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  2. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Ethnicity, Neighborhoods, and Human-Capital Externalities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 365-390, June.
  3. John J. Abowd & John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane, 2004. "Integrated Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data for the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 224-229, May.
  4. Yannis M. Ioannides & Linda Datcher Loury, 2002. "Job Information Networks, Neighborhood Effects and Inequality," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0217, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  5. Patrick Bayer & Stephen L. Ross, 2004. "Place of Work and Place of Residence: Informal Hiring Networks and Labor Market Outcomes," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 495, Econometric Society.
  6. Anna Piil Damm, 2009. "Ethnic Enclaves and Immigrant Labor Market Outcomes: Quasi-Experimental Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 281-314, 04.
  7. Edward P. Lazear, 1995. "Culture and Language," NBER Working Papers 5249, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Cutler, David M. & Glaeser, Edward L. & Vigdor, Jacob L., 2008. "When are ghettos bad? Lessons from immigrant segregation in the United States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 759-774, May.
  9. John Haltiwanger & Julia Lane & James Spletzer, 2000. "Wages, Productivity, and the Dynamic Interaction of Businesses and Workers," NBER Working Papers 7994, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-288, April.
  11. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-872.
  12. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2002. "Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?," IZA Discussion Papers 449, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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